Fracking given the go-ahead by the Government in landmark ruling
Ministers have approved plans to begin fracking for shale gas in a first for the UK.
In a controversial move, the Department for Communities and Local Government over-ruled local objections to give the go-ahead for so-called 'hydraulic fracturing' at the Preston New Road site near Blackpool in Lancashire.
The decision follows a planning appeal by mining firm Cuadrilla against the local council’s initial decision to refuse permission for the scheme.
It is understood that an application to drill at the nearby Roseacre site, has been delayed.
A government spokesman said: "The decisions follow extensive consideration of all the evidence, including an independent planning inspector's report and evidence submitted during a two-week public inquiry."
Critics of fracking say it can cause major environmental problems, including water pollution and even earthquakes.
Pat Davies, Chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said the Government was putting "profit before people".
He said: “Dismantling the democratic process to facilitate a dirty fossil fuel industry when only months ago the UK committed to climate change targets in Paris is another example of saying one thing and doing another.
“Profit clearly comes before people. This decision will be scrutinised by many, not just the people of Lancashire and this travesty of justice will not be accepted. This is not the end. We will challenge this.”
Shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner, who last week announced that Labour would ban fracking, said the decision was "a very bad day for local democracy".
He added: "It's also locking us into a dirty, fossil fuel infrastructure that really is the energy source of the past, instead of looking to the clean, new energy of low-carbon technologies like wind and solar."
Liberal Democrat energy spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone said: “This decision sets a very dangerous precedent, with the government riding roughshod over the will of the local people.
“Fracking poses a huge risk to our countryside, environment and efforts to tackle climate change, we must continue to fight it at every turn.
“At a time when the rest of the world is moving towards low carbon, this Conservative government is taking us in completely the wrong direction.”